ois Sofia, a 28-year-old studying in Canada, was received by her parents at the Chennai Airport and they were flying to Tuticorin from Chennai. After they landed at Tuticorin, Sofia saw a BJP leader and said ‘fascist BJP government down, down’. But when they reached the terminal, her shouting did not stop and the BJP leader, who was travelling on the same flight, called the Airport Police, but the girl was not polite to them. Sofia was charged under the IPC Sections 505 (statements conducing to public mischief), 290 (public nuisance), and Section 75 of the Tamil Nadu City Police Act and the case was being handled by the All Women Police Station at Tuticorin. Sofia has been charged with creating “public nuisance” and “attempt to cause alarm”. Meanwhile, Sofia had earlier participated in the campaigns against the Sterlite Copper Plant in Tuticorin and the Chennai-Salem eight-lane expressway. In a tweet before her arrest, Sofia had posted, “I am on a flight with Tamilisai Soundararajan and really want to shout out ‘Down with Modi – BJP – RSS fascist government’. Will I be kicked off the flight?” She exactly knew what she is going to do and the consequences. This was a deliberate attempt to disrespect a BJP leader who was travelling on the same flight.
Maybe because of her impolite behaviour with the government officers, she had to be arrested. A Thoothukudi court granted bail. Social media made this issue viral, projecting BJP as an intolerant party. One need to know, Sofia was not arrested for calling the government as fascist, but for creating ruckus inside the plane and airport. Freedom of expression doesn’t mean that you can shout at anyone anywhere or insult people for no reason. One should be ready to face the consequences of their own actions. In these days of amplified security threats, anyone who raises slogans or shouts in a flight has to be deboarded. This is not about any party but safety. You never know what that angry passenger could do? Ok, let’s assume that BJP is fascist, but Fascism is extreme nationalism. Nazi Germany under Hitler is an example of a fascist government. Hitler’s extreme nationalism was based on racism. Extreme nationalism was the cause of the Second World War. BJP is a staunch Hindu political party and the seculars and leftists call them communal or fascist. Well, since BJP came to power, students have become the anti-BJP face. By shouting slogans and coming in the limelight, one more student has become a social media sensation and now she would be a future leader.
BJP is not much liked in the south India and Tamilians are very much against the RSS ideology. Even though BJP is a National party, it has to provide some specific importance to the South Indian states; unfortunately, BJP failed to provide such a thing and it only has a national view. For example, Kerala’s majority follows communism and it is the total opposite of BJP’s agenda — there is no specific plan for Kerala from BJP. Same is with Tamil Nadu, BJP never paid attention to the core issues of the state, and the party’s communal approach is disproved at large. The Student wings from all over have come together to fight the “communal forces”. The recent arrest of the civil society members has really not gone well with the students’ union. Meanwhile, people have been heavily affected by demonetisation and they are now looking for an opportunity to vent out their ire against Prime Minister Narendra Modi in some or the other way. There is no career opportunity; BJP has failed to create new jobs. Youth is not only frustrated but they have gone hopeless with the present government. In 2014, the youth was Modi’s strength. But later on, as he came to power, the suicide of Rohit Vemula and atrocities against Dalits, mob lynching in the name of Cow, so-called Romeo squads, too much of moral policing, and policy paralysis have gone against Modi and his government. Crisis in education, jobs, slowdown in manufacturing, and thereby trading, youth have become frustrated. Above all, the fake news trend started after 2014; from GPS nanochip in the notes to UNESCO declarations of Modi being the best Prime Minister. The overhype, by all means, propaganda, and attacks on social media would cost Modi a lot in the coming time. He is a leader of such big country and he will always have some negative and positive points for him and many of them could be quarrelled but one must realise that the public allotted him the responsibility of India, so he must be more dedicated towards the nation. In each and every election, he seems to be the prime Mascot of BJP more than working for India. He twists facts and history; even after four long years of ruling, he still attacks and blames Congress. Even today, they don’t have much to talk about their merits. The pension to disabled soldiers was made slab based, which reduces it by a certain percentage (heard this from a retired soldier). The government has always been supporting the army and hands the people, the example of the soldiers to shut their mouths when they go against them and suddenly this decision was taken? No prior preparation was done by the government before announcing Demonetisation. The government calls Demonetisation a success to avoid a political defeat. The move was totally unplanned with a lot of flaws. Krishi Kalyan cess was a total waste; the current situation of the farmers clearly indicates that farmers have not received benefit from it. Somebody has to be held responsible. It’s either the state or the centre. Extremely poor handling of the Kashmir crisis, the government’s Kashmir policy is a total failure. The violence hasn’t stopped. People still roam in the valley with Pak and ISIS flags. Our security forces are having their hands tied. Even after Modi took over, there’s not much difference. Women’s safety is still a serious issue. The government has failed to bring in laws and swifter prosecution for rape accused. The incidents of rapes against foreign nationals haven’t come down yet.
Well, the NDA, BJP, or the MODI government has no economic model for this country. The policies and practices adopted by them are breaking the backbone of this country, which is the small trader. A middle class trader, businessman, small factory owners in various parts of the country who generate employment for themselves and various other intermediaries are the worst affected by the policies of this government. Swachh Bharat, Smart Cities, Make In India, Digital India — all just proved to be marketing and photo-op opportunities for the government. There are many reasons to be angry with the government, we all have our voices and more than that a power to vote, but still we need the right channel to express our anger. Creating a tamasha at public places is not the solution, whereby, a deliberate attempt to humiliate a minister is very inappropriate. A well educated person doesn’t guarantee that one will behave with minimum decency. This is not a protest march to shout slogans but it is a public place where people should respect others’ privacy. If you are supporting Lois Sofia’s dissent to criticise the government as freedom of expression, then you must support the freedom of expression of people who criticised her back for her action. Is dissent a one way?
(Any suggestions, comments or dispute with regards to this article send us on [email protected])